When I taught high school (here I usually pull my shirt neckline aside and say, “See the scars?”), it was all about my relationship with my classes, just like Mr. Holland. I firmly believe you can’t teach anything to anyone without first having a relationship with them. I have a magnet on my refrigerator that reads: Never teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig. That says it in a nutshell. No matter what the topic--accounting, shorthand, business law, English--I focused on the “compelling why” of the lesson for my students. Why is this important? Why do I need to know that? What’s in it for me?
After 20 years of teaching high school, I changed jobs, and I’ve been teaching adults for the past 12 years. I have found that there is not much difference between teaching adults and teaching teenagers! Once I answer that compelling why question for the participants in my classes, they’re eager to tear in to the material, glad to finally have answers.
I think I was born to be a teacher; I cannot imagine any other career. And it’s not something I can turn off. If I see someone struggling, I’m compelled to help. I must speak in a class setting, asking or answering questions, helping to clarify that “why?” of the lesson.
When you think of it, agility training--or even foundation or obedience training--is the same thing, isn't it? You’re answering that question for your dog: “Why do I need to sit for my dinner?” There was a comment on the Susan Garrett blog about foundation training that has stuck with me. She says, “Build the value. Test the value.” She meant that our dogs only do the behaviors we ask of them because we’ve built value for that behavior. This clicks in with my teaching “philosophy” (Is there such a thing?). I find myself repeating that catch phrase--build the value, test the value--as I train Cosi.
2010 will be our year in the Excellent level classes. We’ll be building value for 2o2o contacts, quick table downs, and all 12 weave poles.
What's your training focus for 2010?